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IK Enemkpali Strives for the Perfect Rep

Posted Jul 31, 2014

Sixth-Round Rookie DE Already Knows 'You Don't Get Do-Overs' in the NFL

A day that started off with severe weather warnings over the loudspeakers, threatening practice at Cortland Stadium, turned into another beautiful day for football here at Jets training camp in central New York. But was that really thunder in the distance, or was that just the rumble of a defense ready to bring the pain at today’s highly anticipated “goal line day” practice?

The dynamic D rocked the house once again, popping pads and taking names in hard-hitting drills. With a ratio of three or four stops for every one touchdown scored by the offense, the defense simply Shut. It. Down.

One of those up-and-coming defensive stars to be on the lookout for is rookie Ikemefuna Enemkpali. Better and more easily known as IK, Enemkpali brought the heat to training camp in his own regard today, focusing with laser precision on the aspect of his game where he seems to be getting the most action right now: individual drills.

“My whole thing is try to get good reps," he said. "You don’t get do-overs in this league, especially in my position. I try to do reps as well as I can. If it’s in individual, that’s where I get most of my work in. So in individual, if I do a rep wrong, I’m just going to do it over again so I can get that perfect, you know, get that good rep in.“

You can really tell a lot about a guy by the way he approaches individual drills, and IK stood out at practice today. Even long after linebackers coach Bobby April III was through yelling, “Set, hit!”, IK was asking for more. More hits on the single-man blocking sled, more one-on-one line drills, more everything.

To complement his work ethic, IK seeks guidance from rookies, veterans, coaches and legends alike.

“I’m looking up to Troy Davis. He helps me out a lot,” Enemkpali said of the first-year linebacker. “Sheldon [Richardson] helps me out a lot, a whole bunch with everything, as well as [Leger] Douzable, he helps. Everybody on D-line, they reach out to me. But Troy is somebody who really helps me. My fellow rookies help me out as well. Me, Kerry Hyder, Jeremiah George, we stay together. We talk about practice. We keep each other’s spirits high.”

Like many other players, IK has high praise for the Jets coaching staff and can’t get enough of head coach Rex Ryan.

“Working with Rex? Man, it’s love,” IK said. “Today he pulled me to the side and he helped me with my 6-technique, and he really doesn’t know how much he just helped me with that. He taught me a different way to play. He just eased that part of my game so much more with the little coaching he did.”





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For IK, college ball differs from life in the pros in the high level of uncertainty players are faced with on a daily basis.

“I think the big difference from here and college is the competition," the former Louisiana Tech Bulldog said. “Everyone knows in college that you are going to be there for the season. Here, some guys, you don’t know if you are going to be here or not. Even being a draft pick, you don’t know if you are going to be here or not. The competition level raises up a little bit more.

"The good thing is that it’s still football," he said with a laugh. "Anywhere I can play a little ball, that’s a good thing.”

Number 51 may be flying under the radar behind some of the more big name guys now, but his eagerness to go over and above what is required of him cannot be overlooked.

“Like Jerry Rice said, every day you feel like somebody is coming for your job. I feel like that a lot of times, actually,” IK said. “So I just want to work and I want to perfect my game, even though it’s a game where you really can’t be perfect, there’s no ceiling. I got a lot of work to do and I want to get good at what I do, so I’ll keep working. But even when I get good at it, you know, I’m still going to keep working at it to get better."

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